• Cattle production is a widely distributed enterprise in Kenya.
  • Most farming communities choose between the exotic and the’ local breeds or their crosses depending on the environmental conditions.
  • Whereas the backbone of beef industry in Kenya is made up of the indigenous animals and their crosses, and based in the somewhat drier areas, the-dairy industry is mainly based on the exotic breeds and their crosses and common in the wetter regions of Kenya.
  • Whatever production undertaken, the returns depend mostly on the management levels provided to these animals.
  • A productive herd starts with good management of the young stock.

Raising of Young· Stock.

  • The young one of cattle is known as a calf.

Feeding Dairy Calves

  • Newborn calves should be given colostrums within the first 3-5 days of their life.

Colostrum is important for the following reasons:

  • It is highly digestible.
  • It contains antibiotics.
  • It is highly nutritious.
  • It serves as a laxative.
  • It is highly palatable.
  • Calves can be fed using natural method (direct suckling) or artificially/bucket feeding.

Natural Method

  • In this method, calves suckle the mother directly.


  • The calf takes milk at body temperature.
  • The milk is free from contaminants.
  • Less problems of scouring.


  • Underfeeding of the calf may result.
  • Cows may not let down milk in case the calf dies.
  • Difficult to keep accurate production records.

Artificial/Bucket Feeding

  • The calf is trained to feed from the bucket immediately after birth.

The calf is trained as follows:

  • Well measured milk is put in a clean bucket.
  • Index finger is inserted into the mouth of the calf.
  • The head of the calf is lowered slowly into the bucket until the calf starts to drink the milk.
  • The finger is withdrawn slowly as the calf continues to drink from the bucket.
  • The procedure is repeated until the calf gets used to the process.


  • Easy to keep accurate production record/milk yields of the cow.
  • Possible to regulate the amount of milk given to the calf
  • The cow does not need the presence of the calf in order to let down milk
  • Easy to maintain high hygiene standards.


  • Laborious
  • Calf may be given cold milk
  • Equipment used and the stockman may be dirty leading to scours

Preparation of artificial colostrums

Ingredients used

  • A fresh egg whipped in 0.86 litres of warm water
  • Litre of warm water
  • One teaspoonful of cod liver oil
  • One tablespoonful of castor oil
  • Note; colostrums is fed to the calves three times a day for the first 4 days of life and thereafter twice a day.

Weaning of calves

Early weaning

  • Calf is fed on whole milk up to the tenth week then it is weaned
  • Calf is given milk equal to 10% of its body weight up to the 8th week
  • After 8th week, milk is reduced gradually by 1 kg until weaning

Calf is given early weaning concentrates and soft forage

Late weaning

  • Calf is fed on whole milk up to the 3rd week, when milk is replaced gradually with skim milk.
  • At the age of 3weeks the calf is introduced to calf pellets or pencils and green fodder.
  • The calf is given plenty of clean water.
  • The calf continues to be given additional skim milk up to the age of 14 weeks when maximum amount of milk is given.
  • Skim milk is reduced from 14 weeks to 16 weeks when weaning is done.

Rearing of replacement stock

  • The replacement stock includes young heifers and bulls which have been selected for breeding to replace the old stock.

Management Practice

Parasite control-Spraying against external parasites and deworming against internal parasites.

Disease control-Calves are vaccinated routinely against diseases such as;

  • Blackquater-at 4 months old.
  • Anthrax and Blackquater at 6 months old
  • Brucellosis – 3-8 months old (heifers).

Castration – for male calves not selected for breeding.

Identification – Suitable methods are used. It allows proper record keeping.

Removal of Extra Teats ;

  • These teats are known as supernumerary teats which make milking of the animal difficult.
  • They are clipped off with teat clippers.

Dehorning/Disbudding – The removal of horn buds using suitable methods.

Calf Housing

  • Requirement of a Calf Pen;
  • Should be clean and easy to clean.
  • Be warm and dry.
  • Have adequate space to allow exercise and feeding.
  • Should be properly lit and allow sunlight for Vitamin D.
  • Have proper drainage to avoid dampness.
  • Draught free to prevent chilling.
  • Be well ventilated to allow fresh air.


Types of Pens

These can be;

  • permanent
  • mobile/movable.

Permanent Pens

  • Have a solid floor raised above the ground.
  • The floor should be slanted for drainage.
  • Constructed near the milking parlour.

Mobile/Movable Pens

  • Have an open floor to allow grass into the pen.
  • Easily moved from one place to another to avoid soiling.
  • Kept outdoors in the pastures to allow the calf to nibble on pastures.

Single Housing

  • Calves should be housed singly up to the age of 3 weeks, when they are put in group pens.
  • This is to avoid them licking each other and swallowing hairs which form indigestible balls.

Milk and Milking

  • Milk is the white lacteal substance secreted by the mammary glands of the female mammals.

Composition of Milk

  • Protein – Casein and whey.
  • Fat – Butter fat.
  • Carbohydrates – Lactose
  • Minerals – mainly calcium and phosphorus.
  • Water

Factors Affecting Milk Composition

  • Age of the animal.
  • Conditions of the animal.
  • Stage of lactation and pregnancy.
  • Completeness of milking.
  • Type  of breed.
  • Season of the year.
  • Type of food eaten.
  • Physiological conditions such as diseases.


Milk Secretion and Milk Let-down

  • Milk is secreted by the mammary glands which is an accessory gland of the reproductive system.
  • The mammary gland of a cow is known as an udder.

The udder is composed of the following parts:

  • Alveolus cells – synthesize and secrete milk.
  • Lobule – a group of alveolus cells.
  • Lobe – Several lobules grouped together and drained by lactiferous ducts.
  • Gland cistern – space where milk collects from the lobes.
  • Teat cistern – A space where milk collects before emission.
  • Teat -An organ which drains each quarter of the udder.


Milk Secretion

  • The process of milk secretion is known as lactogenesis.
  • The digested food is taken to the udder via blood vessels.
  • In the udder the nutrients are carried into the alveoli cells where metabolic reactions take place to build up these nutrients into milk.
  • A hormone prolactine is secreted by pituitary gland which brings about lactogenesis.
  • The milk secreted is then stored in the upper parts of the udder waiting to be released.


Milk Let-Down

  • The process of milk let-down occurs naturally when the animal is stimulated.\
  • Milk secreted moves from alveolar region through the ducts to the gland cistern.
  • Oxytocin, a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland causes the contraction of the udder muscles forcing the milk down the teats.
  • Oxytocin hormone lasts 7 -10 minutes in the blood stream hence fast milking is important to withdraw the milk.
  • Milk is withdrawn from the teats by gently squeezing them.


Factors Influencing Milk Let-Down

  • Presence of the calf.
  • Presence of the milkman/milker.
  • Rattling of the milk equipment.
  • Site of the food/feeding the animal.
  • Massaging or washing the udder.
  • Sight of the milk parlour.

Factors Inhibiting Milk Let-Down

  • Beating the animal/inflicting pain to the animal.
  • Presence of strangers and animals for example dogs.
  • Poor milking techniques.
  • Absence of the calf (in case the cow is used to it).

Clean Milk Production

The following factors are essential for clean milk production:

  • A healthy lactating cow.
  • A healthy and clean milker.
  • Clean and properly constructed milking parlour.
  • Clean and disinfected milking equipment.
  • Proper handling of the milk after milking.

Milking Procedure

  • The animals are brought near the milking parlour 15-20 minutes before milking to get into the mood of being milked.
  • Milking materials such as equipment, feeds, ropes, stools and salve are collected and placed near the milking parlour.
  • The animals are allowed into the milking stall one by one as the milking proceeds as follows:
  • The animal is restrained in the stall.
  • Feed is weighed and placed into the feed trough.
  • The udder is thoroughly washed, disinfected and dried with a clean cloth.
  • A strip cup is used to test for mastitis on each quarter.
  • Milking proceeds by squeezing the teats with the full hand. If machine milking the teat cups are placed on the teats.
  • For hand milking start with the hindquarters and finish with the forequarters.
  • Fast milking should take about 8 minutes then end with stripping the udder.
  • The milk is weighed and recorded.
  • The animal is then released.

Dry Cow Therapy

  • This is the infusion of antibiotics into the teat canal of a cow that is preparing for drying off.
  • It prevents bacterial infection which leads to mastitis.

Milk Products

  • Pasteurized milk – milk that is heated and cooled immediately.
  • Ultra Heat Treated (UHT) – milk heated to a temperature of 130-135C, packed and then cooled.
  • Butter – Milk butter fat separated by a process known as churning.
  • Cream -A layer of is: that collects at the top of the milk when left to stand.
  • Cheese – Milk proteins which have been compressed.
  • Ghee – Milk fat made from heating cream or butter.
  • Skim milk – Milk without butter fat.

Marketing of Milk

  • The Kenya Dairy Board regulates the production and sale of milk and milk products through various Dairy Co-operative Societies.
  • Processors and distributors of milk and milk products include;
  • KCC,
  • Brookside Dairies,
  • Tuzo,
  • Delamere Dairies
  • Limuru Dairies.

Marketing of Beef

Done by the following:

  • Individual fanners through the local slaughter house.
  • Livestock marketing division.
  • Kenya Meat Commission.
  • Farmer’s Choice.
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